Lost in all the talk surrounding the Canucks courting of soon-to-be unrestricted free agent goaltender, Ryan Miller, were the reports that the team was setting itself up to take a run at Jarome Iginla, should he hit free agency. There’s fraternizing with the enemy, and then there is this.
Canucks fans will remember Iginla for his decade-plus of service as captain of the rival Calgary Flames; some with reverence, others disdain. By large, though, Iginla’s name is associated with the type of “meat and potatoes” style of hockey that Jim Benning and Trevor Linden have made clear they’re fond of. Is there a match to be made here?
Find out on the other side of the jump.
— Kelcey Brade (@ctv_kelcey) June 29, 2014
With the Boston Bruins being hit by nearly $5M in bonus overages they find themselves planted firmly against the upper limits of the salary cap, with less than $2M in cap space left. This figure doesn’t even include RFA forwards Reilly Smith and Jordan Caron’s salaries for next season. In short: no matter how much either side wants to make this work, Iginla is unlikely to re-sign with the Bruins.
And this, of course, has Canucks management, among others, salivating.
Iginla is fresh off a 30-goal, 61-point campaign and has proven, if nothing else, that he still has a few years of productive hockey left in him. The clock is ticking for Iginla on his storied career, but perhaps not at the pace anticipated.
This bodes well for Vancouver’s chances of landing Iginla. The team itself has yet to use the term “rebuild” to describe the roster overhaul that is taking place, but is still far from being taken seriously as a contender. The reality of this team’s ETA on returning to contention is entirely open to interpretation. For an aging player like Iginla, who is still in pursuit of his first Stanley Cup, the Canucks aren’t a total write-off.
A pact between the Canucks and the captain of the club’s one-time bitter rival might make some sense, despite the heated history between the two. Vancouver’s new general manager Jim Benning was with the Boston Bruins last season, so there’s some familiarity there. Iginla is also represented by Newport Sport Agency’s Don Meehan, who also served as the player agent for new Canucks president Trevor Linden (Benning also worked with Newport Sports for a time).
So, it’s easy to see why the Canucks would kick the tires on Iginla. The Canucks are of course trying to re-brand themselves and build a new culture in town. Who better to help with this process than heart-and-soul leader Jarome Iginla? It is worth noting, however, that the last time Iginla was part of sustaining any culture, it was one of denial in Calgary.
An Iginla signing would also go a long way in addressing the Canucks size issue up front. Speaking of size, I could very easily see Iginla taking on a mentoring role with the only power forward currently on their roster, Zack Kassian.
At the end of the day though, I’m still not entirely convinced that there’s a fit. Of all the aforementioned qualities that would make Iginla appealing to Vancouver, it is worth noting that most of them are tertiary elements of the larger problem in town. The Canucks need an infusion of youth, not “heart”; they need to develop offensive talent, not keep the dream of seventh place alive with pensioners.
Linden Vey, Zack Kassian, Nicklas Jensen, Jannik Hansen, Alex Burrows and Derek Dorsett are all right wingers. Where exactly do the Canucks fit Iginla?
It’s also likely that Iginla wants a more realistic chance at competing for a Stanley Cup. At 36, Iginla isn’t getting any younger and there isn’t a wealth of time left for his storied career. When teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings come calling, where does Vancouver rank?
The Canucks have an insane amount of cap space, nearly $18M, and a very underwhelming roster. There is no shortage of holes on this team. In reality, they could be at least three to four years away from contention. At best, the current makeup of this roster is good enough for eighth in the Western Conference. Is it worth signing a 36-year old who will all but assuredly not be a member of this team when it’s competitive again, just for the sake of one spot in the standings and maybe an extra playoff win or two? Not really.
Iginla’s still a good player, and were the Canucks set to ice a competitive roster next season, then yeah, I could see a fit. As is? Not a hope in hell. There’s several younger UFA’s with careers that are still on the upswing, and those are the ones worth looking at.